John Lipford

John Lipford Headshot

John Lipford, J.D., Affiliate Professor

Office Address: 225C Richard M. DeVos Center - Pew Campus
Phone: (616) 331-8827
Email: [email protected]

Teaching Areas:
HTM 242 - Cannabis Regulations and Tourism
HTM 343 - Human Resource Management
HTM 361 - Hospitality Law and Legislation
HTM 368 - Geotourism

John W. Lipford is an Affiliate Professor of Instruction in Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) program.  Prior to beginning his career with GVSU in 2010, John practiced law in Saginaw, Michigan and Grand Rapids, Michigan, and represented individual plaintiff litigants, as well as individual and corporate defendants, in a variety of cases. John maintains his membership with the State Bar of Michigan and is licensed to practice law within the state.

John primarily teaches SWS Human Resource Management (HTM 343) and Hospitality Law & Legislation (HTM 361). In these courses, he introduces best-practice employment/management strategies and techniques, reinforces legal concepts, provides instruction regarding the laws and legal principles governing the hospitality and tourism industry, and the liability which can result in any industry if these laws or principles are not consistently followed. 

John is also co-creator of GVSU’s study abroad to Costa Rica (in conjunction with EARTH University in Guacimo, Costa Rica) instructing Adventure Tourism (HTM 268) and Geotourism (HTM 368). This program is unique to any other university in the U.S. in breadth, scope, and length.  John also teaches HTM 368 in an in-class setting and partners with Grand Rapids’ John Ball Zoo for a project in which students “adopt” a zoo animal species and explore the negative impacts of climate change, unsustainable agricultural practices, and tourism on the species’ country of origin. 

Most recently, John designed a course entitled “Cannabis Regulations and Tourism” (HTM 242); the first cannabis-based tourism course in the U.S. The course examines the challenges and opportunities of cannabis-based tourism for food service and lodging, tour operators, meeting and events, and various franchisees following voter approval of Michigan Proposition 1 in 2018.  This includes looking at the underlying regulatory history of marijuana in the U.S. and abroad, engaging in a comparative analysis of U.S. and international regulation of recreational and medical cannabis, as well as comparing and contrasting cannabis regulation to the prohibition of alcohol during the 1920s and early 1930s. 

HTM 242 also covers a variety of topics relevant to students from other disciplines, including American history, law, human resources, economics, international studies and more. Students explore marijuana through the lens of community health and addiction, social and restorative justice, and how to be a responsible operator when it comes to regulating both employee and guest use of cannabis.

In addition to cannabis tourism, John’s research interests include social justice issues and discrimination in the hospitality and tourism (HTM) industry, the use of service animals by HTM guests and employees, the history/expansion of responsible tourism in the Great Plains of the United States, and the use of popular media (including NBC’s The Office) to accomplish active learning in the modern classroom (Lipford & Rood, 2019).

Lastly, John appreciates all the opportunities he has had to serve as a faculty mentor/supervisor for student independent studies in the HTM department and senior projects in the Frederik Meijer Honors College.  These include: Airline and Airport Affordability - Gerald R. Ford International Airport versus Regional Competition (2012); Human Resource Policy Implementation in Food Service (2015); Fostering Awareness of Sustainable Tourism in the Great Plains – the American Prairie Reserve (2017); Social Media and Employer Background Checks in the HTM Industry and Beyond (2017); Customer Service and Sustainability in Costa Rican Eco-Lodges (2018); the Impacts of Tourism in Costa Rica and a Comparative Analysis of U.S. and Costa Rican National Parks (2018); and, “Ask Anything,” addressing the issue of sexual harassment in the hospitality industry (2019). 

John holds undergraduate degrees from Miami University (OH) in journalism and psychology, and received his J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Education degree in Adult and Higher Education at GVSU.

In his free time, John enjoys spending time with his children and dogs.  He is an avid Detroit Tigers’ fan, enjoys writing, and his favorite pastime is fishing.  

B.A., Miami University (OH)
J.D., Michigan State University College of Law

Page last modified August 25, 2023